ICC and WTO call for increased action on trade to respond to COVID-19
ICC and WTO have issued a joint statement underscoring the crucial role trade and trade rules have to play in both the health and economic response to the COVID-19 crisis.
In response to a G20 Trade and Investment Minister’s declaration, issued on Monday 30 March, ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO and WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo have issued a joint statement calling for increased action on trade to ensure an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The two leaders have also announced ICC-WTO collaboration on a virtual business roundtable to provide concrete advice to governments.
Pointing to the G20’s recent recognition of the need for the international community to step up global cooperation in response to this unparalleled health, social and economic crisis underway Messieurs Denton and Azevedo write:
“We deeply share the G20’s concern about the impact of the pandemic on the most vulnerable, including developing and least developed countries, and on workers and businesses, including micro- small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).”
The statement highlights the importance of the private sector as an important partner in responding to the pandemic and urges governments to work “cooperatively and effectively” with the business community who can help business signal where trade flows and production chains are being affected and help identify solutions that maximise health outcomes while minimising economic damage.
“We are concerned about the severe disruptions to value chains in many sectors – with major implications for employment and the supply of goods, especially essential medical and food supplies. Bold and urgent leadership is required to keep trade moving and to secure jobs,” the statement notes.
“The business community is – and will continue to be – an important partner in this response,” said Mr Denton. “ICC will work with its partners to host an extraordinary virtual business roundtable in collaboration with the WTO. This virtual session will convene business leaders from throughout the world to provide constructive recommendations to governments on trade policy measures that can be readily deployed to speed the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the immediate and mid-term.”
The statement concludes:
“Trade and trade rules have a crucial role to play in both the health and economic response to the crisis. We welcome the G20’s endorsement of this view, including their assertion that any pandemic-related trade measures should be ‘targeted, proportionate, transparent, and temporary’.”
“We also underscore the importance of ‘actively working to ensure the flow of vital medical supplies, critical agricultural products, and other goods and services across borders,’ as well as the G20’s broader commitment to ‘minimise disruptions to trade and global supply chains’.”